Nerika was focused on the serious business of redressing the Princess. Her current gown was just not right for the informal get together with her friends. Nerika did not bother to glance over at the dark clouds of the coastal storm, rushing towards her home. Her mother would call her to come inside soon enough, she reasoned, so there was no sense is wasting precious playtime with her dolls. Stiff breezes washed up from the Riverfront and knifed through the city blocks an squares of Savannah, Georgia, and was reminder enough for Nerika that her outdoor fun would end at any moment. She inhaled sharply and sighed heavily. Nerika could always smell the rain in the air.
A sudden bass drum beat reverberated through her small legs, arms and chest. Nerika could hear the sound of music shaking plastic, steel, and glass. She saw the white Cadillac drive by one wheels that were better suited for a pick up truck, capped with sparkling chrome hub caps. Both of the men in the car were looking at Nerika as the gaudy car drove by her home. Their skin was darker than hers and one wore his dreadlocked hair pulled back in a loose ponytail. It was the second time she'd seen the Cadillac roll by her house since the storm clouds rolled over the horizon.
"Nerika, honey. Get in the house, girl. Storm's coming." Nerika heard her mother's voice call over her shoulder. She looked back and saw her mother standing where the screened door of their home used once stood. Despite her young age, the seven year old still remembered starting Kindergarten when her mother replaced the screen door with an iron security gate.
Nerika gathered her dolls in both hands, as her mother kept a watchful eye on the Cadillac. The car sped off after waiting uncomfortably long at the stop sign. "I miss her, mommy. When's my Auntie coming back?" Nerika asked, as she walked up to the first sun bleached, worn wooden steps to the house.
"I told you, girl. We on our own now." Her mother snapped harshly. The tone stung Nerika, as it always did whenever they talked about the last time she saw her aunt. "Your Auntie had to go away."
"Will she come back for us?" Nerika persisted with the same question she had asked her mother for the past two years. She looked back over her shoulder at the stop sign at the end of their block.
Her mother shook her head as she always did. "Come on inside, Nerika. Storm's coming." Was all her mother said as she turned and walked into the house. Nerika watched her mother place the shotgun back in the corner behind door.